NewThe Middle Earth Legendarium Reading Order

The classic works of J.R.R. Tolkien, in order of their internal chronology.

The definitive example of the High Fantasy genre, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s assorted works about Middle Earth go far beyond just The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The First Age

Ainulindalë
In The Silmarillion.
Valaquenta
In The Silmarillion.
Quenta Silmarillion, chapters 1-19
In The Silmarillion.
Beren and Lúthien
Published as a separate work.

Quenta Silmarillion, chapters 20-21
In The Silmarillion.
Narn i Hîn Húrin (The Tale of the Children of Húrin)
In Unfinished Tales.
An expansion of Chapter 21 of “The Silmarillion”.
The Tale of the Children of Húrin: Narn i Chin Húrin
Published as a separate work.
An expansion of Chapter 21 of “The Silmarillion” and Narn i Hîn Húrin in “Unfinished Tales”.
Quenta Silmarillion, chapters 22-23
In The Silmarillion.
Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin
In Unfinished Tales.
An expansion of Chapter 23 of “The Silmarillion”.
The Fall of Gondolin
Published as a separate work.
An expansion of Chapter 23 of “The Silmarillion” and “Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin” from “Unfinished Tales”.
Quenta Silmarillion, chapter 24
In The Silmarillion.

The Second Age

A Description of the Island of Númenor
In Unfinished Tales.
Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife
In Unfinished Tales.
The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor
In Unfinished Tales.
Akallabêth
In The Silmarillion.
The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
In Unfinished Tales.

The Third Age

The Disaster of the Gladden Fields
In Unfinished Tales.
Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan
In Unfinished Tales.
The Hobbit
Published as a separate work
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 1, chapters 1-5.
Published as a separate work.
The Hunt for the Ring
In Unfinished Tales.
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 1, chapters 6-12.
Published as a separate work.
The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 2, chapters 1-10.
Published as a separate work.
The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 3, chapters 1-6
Published as a separate work.
The Battles of the Fords of Isen
In Unfinished Tales.
The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 3, chapters 7-11, & Book 4
Published as a separate work.
The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 5 and Book 6, chapters 1-4
Published as a separate work.

The Fourth Age

The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 6, chapter 5
Published as a separate work.
The Quest of Erebor
In Unfinished Tales.
Takes place during chapter 5 of The Return of the King, Book 6.
The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings, Book 5 and Book 6, chapters 6-9
Published as a separate work.
Bilbo’s Last Song
Published as a separate work.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
Published as a separate work.
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
In The Silmarillion.
The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of The Lord of the Rings, Appendices
Published as a separate work.
The Drúedain
In Unfinished Tales.
The Istari
In Unfinished Tales.
The Palantiri
In Unfinished Tales.
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6 Comments

  1. what about Fellowhip of the Ring Book 2?

    • Well, that’s embarrassing. I can’t believe I missed that.
      Thank you for bringing this to my attention – I’ve fixed it now.

  2. Where would the History of Middle-Earth and such additions end-up?

    I would like to expand my reading order even more.

    Thank you !

    • Hi Beldam.

      I left The History of Middle Earth books out on purpose, as they are not an in-universe history but rather a history of Tolkien’s creative process over the decades that he worked on Middle Earth. My suggestion would be to read the fiction first, and then read this series for a look at the creative process behind the scenes.

      • Thank you !

        I really appreciate your reading list.

        Would you say that the Adventures of Tom Bombadil would come last as well?

        • After some consideration, I have placed it after Bilbo’s Last Song – it belongs with the rest of the Red Book of Westmarch.

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